Photo: CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan presenting the Special Recognition Award to Apollo Bay Fire Brigade Captain David Howell (Courtesy Great Ocean Photography and Apollo Bay Hotel)
The Apollo Bay Fire Brigade has been recognised for its commitment to its local community with a Special Recognition Award, for the brigade’s work under pressure to extinguish an intense fire burning through three local shops.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan attended alongside CFA District 6 ACFO Craig Brittain to present the award to brigade members on Friday night, 21 October.
At 3.17am on 14 April last year, the brigade responded to a major structure fire that engulfed a local fish and chip shop and Chinese restaurant.
Within six minutes, a crew of five firefighters arrived on scene at the Collingwood Street fire to find the building well alight.
The fire had quickly grown in size and was becoming increasingly more complex to bring under control as time passed.
The first Apollo Bay firefighters on scene were under pressure and worked extremely hard for around 45 minutes while they waited for support crews to arrive on scene.
Strong wind gusts and building design contributed to a fast spread of fire to an adjoining restaurant and hardware store.
Crews thought fast to evacuate a nearby motel within six minutes of arrival.
Strong teamwork and fire suppression helped extinguish the fire which had destroyed the restaurant and takeaway shop, but firefighters were able to stop the fire in its tracks and save a portion of the hardware store.
The award acknowledged the leadership of Incident Controller Captain David Howell and his team on the night of the fire.
Captain Howell said it was an honour for his brigade to receive the Special Recognition Award.
“The responding members did a great job on scene that night; they all worked well together, and they deserve it,” he said.
“We did all we could to save the back end of the hardware shop. We’re glad we did because it was back up and running with a generator in about three days after the incident.
“There’s a lot of building in the area and without the hardware store it would’ve made it harder than it already was, so we’re glad we could help the community out by stopping the fire spread.”
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said the brigade’s efforts during that incident was
a demonstration of considerable, sustained and strenuous effort, ultimately to successfully protect the remainder of the hardware store and the motel.
“Any further loss would have had serious and detrimental financial and social impacts on the stressed Apollo Bay economy,” he said.
“The brigade and responding firefighters showed commitment, dedication, bravery and tenacity in their role to protect the lives and property within the community.”
- Photo Apollo Fire Brigade (Courtesy Great Ocean Photography and Apollo Bay Hotel)